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favorable or prosperous outcome; attainment of wealth, position, fame, etc.
Not to be confused with:
succuss – to shake up; shake
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
a. The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success.
b. The extent of such gain.
3. One that is successful: The plan was a success.
4. Archaic A result or an outcome.

[Latin successus, from past participle of succēdere, to succeed; see succeed.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the favourable outcome of something attempted
2. the attainment of wealth, fame, etc
3. an action, performance, etc, that is characterized by success
4. a person or thing that is successful
5. obsolete any outcome
[C16: from Latin successus an outcome, from succēdere to succeed]
sucˈcessless adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
3. a successful performance or achievement.
4. a person or thing that is successful.
5. Obs. outcome.
[1530–40; < Latin successus <succed-, variant s. of succēdere to succeed]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • marplot - A person who spoils a plot or who ruins the success of an undertaking or process.
  • acid test - A test that is conclusive of the value or success of something, derived from the original use of nitric acid as a test for gold.
  • core asset, core competency - A core asset is something essential to success, and a core competency is a distinguishing advantage.
  • exploit - Originally meant "progress, success," and "speed."
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.




  1. The anatomy of the first major success is like the young human body, a miracle only the owner can fully savor —John Fowles
  2. As he rose like a rocket, he fell like a stick —Thomas Paine
  3. A certain prosperity coats these people like scent or the layer of buttery light in a painting by Rubens —Jean Thompson
  4. A conqueror, like a cannon ball, must go on; if he rebounds, his career is over —The Duke of Wellington
  5. (The midlist author is) dogged by his past sales record, like a utility infielder with a .228 lifetime batting average —Phillip Lopate, New York Times Book Review, May 24, 1987
  6. Failed … like an old hanging bridge —Marge Piercy
  7. Fail like a five-year plan —Derek Lambert
  8. Failure grabs a man like an old and shabby suit —Derek Lambert
  9. (A great beauty) flourishing like a rose —Isak Dinesen
  10. Flourishing like a weed in a hot house —Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
  11. Flourishing like trees —Hilma Wolitzer
  12. Had risen to his great height like a man lifted to the ceiling by a sort of slow explosion —G. K. Chesterton
  13. High office is like a pyramid; only two kinds of animals reach the summit, reptiles and eagles —Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
  14. His life, day after day, was failing like an unreplenished stream —Percy Bysshe Shelley
  15. Moving up hand over hand … like a champion —Tom Wolfe
  16. Pursued success as a knight the Holy Grail —Anon


  17. Sailed through the world like a white yacht jubilant with flags —John Gardner
  18. Selling like lemonade at a track meet —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  19. Sell like hotcakes —Anon

    Different industries have coined many phrases for things which sell well. This American simile which came into use in the middle of the nineteenth century is still the most widely used. For a twist in meaning there’s “Selling like cold hot cakes” from The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley.

  20. Sold [books by nineteenth century author Karl May] like pancakes topped by wild blueberries and heavy cream —Vincent Canby, New York Times, June 25, 1986
  21. Sold like picks and pans in a gold rush —Robert Guenther, Wall Street Journal, August 6, 1986
  22. Success is as ice cold and lonely as the North Pole —Vicki Baum

    See Also: ALONENESS

  23. Success is feminine and like a woman, if you cringe before her, she will override you —William Faulkner

    Faulkner expanded on this simile still further: “So the way to treat her is to show her the back of your hand. Then maybe she will do the crawling.”

  24. Success on some men looks like a borrowed coat; it sits on you as though it had been made to order —Edith Wharton
  25. Triumphs like a trumpet —Wallace Stevens
  26. Wanted his success acknowledged … like the high school loser who dreams of driving to the class reunion in a custom-made sports car —Jean Thompson
  27. Winning an Oscar … it’s like getting thirty thousand red roses at one time —Louise Fletcher, from Rex Reed interview
  28. Wore his success like his health —George Garrett
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



(See also VICTORY.)

bring down the house To elicit a vigorous and lengthy ovation from an audience; to be a smash or great success; sometimes bring down the gallery. The image created by this expression, in which house means ‘theater’ or ‘playhouse,’ is one of such loud, sustained applause as to bring about the collapse of the building. The phrase was in use as early as 1754.

have the last laugh To prove ultimately successful after an apparent defeat; to avenge. The idea of having the last laugh is fairly literal, i.e., though others may laugh now, the butt of their humor will laugh later when, in the final analysis, he is victorious. This phrase was popularized in the 1937 song “They All Laughed,”by George and Ira Gershwin:

They all laughed at us and how!
But Ho, Ho, Ho!
Who’s got the last laugh now?

Related expressions are he who laughs last laughs best, and he laughs best that laughs last. The latter appeared in The Mistake (1706) by Sir John Vanbrugh.

hit the jackpot See GOOD LUCK.

land on one’s feet To achieve success despite predictable loss; to extricate one-self from a potentially dangerous situation; to escape failure narrowly. This popular expression usually appears in a context implying that the one who “lands on his feet” does so through undeserved luck; he repeatedly gets himself into scrapes but somehow survives. It is apparently based on the notion that one plummeting downward is unlikely to land safely, let alone feet first.

pan out To succeed; to yield results, especially favorable ones; to occur. This expression alludes to panning for gold, a method of prospecting in which a shallow pan is used to scoop a small amount of gravel and sand from a stream. Any gold present settles to the bottom of the pan as the gravel and sand are washed away. Pan out, then, originally indicated a successful prospecting venture. As the California gold rush that spawned this expression began to subside, pan out became more figurative, and has remained in widespread usage since the late 19th century.

Socialism … may pan out as a new kind of religion. (Sinclair Lewis, Our Mr. Wrenn, 1914)

pay dirt Any desired result or goal, especially one related to wealth or success; a fortunate discovery. Literally, pay dirt is a mining term that refers to an area of land that contains enough valuable metals or other resources to merit excavation. After its introduction in the 1870s, pay dirt soon became more figurative, commonly being applied to any success.

I didn’t hit pay dirt until near the bottom of the second box of discarded telephone directories. (John Evans, Halo in Blood, 1946)

In recent years, pay dirt has been used frequently to describe the end zone (goal area) of a football field.

ring the bell To succeed, to make a hit; to be the best. The bell of this expression may be that attached to the strength-testing machine at carnivals which rings when a player is successful. Or it may be the bell in target shooting that rings when the bull’s-eye is hit.

strike oil To have good luck or success, especially financial; to discover a source of potential personal aggrandizement; to strike it rich; to hit pay dirt. This expression alludes to oil as an entity which inevitably leads to wealth and success, a concept strengthened in recent years by the increasing prominence of Middle East oil barons. Though still used literally to describe the locating of underground oil, strike oil is commonly applied figuratively in contexts directly or indirectly related to money or other personal good fortune.

He has certainly “struck oil” in the Costa Rica and Honduras loans. {Punch, March 6, 1875)

turn up trumps To turn out successfully, to come out better than expected, to turn out well or fine; to be lucky, to land on one’s feet.

Instances … of short courtships and speedy marriages, which have turned up trumps—I beg your pardon—which have turned out well, after all. (Wilkie Collins, No Name, 1862)

The allusion is to drawing or playing a winning trump card. See trump card, PLOY.

with flying colors Victoriously, triumphantly, successfully; handily, easily; superbly, in extraordinary fashion. This phrase, usually in expressions such as come off with flying colors and come out of it with flying colors, alludes to a triumphant fleet of ships sailing into home port with their colors (i.e., flags) proudly displayed on the mastheads. Used figuratively, with flying colors often implies that one has not only survived a potentially precarious predicament but has been victorious to boot.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.success - an event that accomplishes its intended purposesuccess - an event that accomplishes its intended purpose; "let's call heads a success and tails a failure"; "the election was a remarkable success for the Whigs"
happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent - an event that happens
barnburner - an impressively successful event; "the rock concert was a real barnburner"
Godspeed - a successful journey; "they wished him Godspeed"
triumph, victory - a successful ending of a struggle or contest; "a narrow victory"; "the general always gets credit for his army's victory"; "clinched a victory"; "convincing victory"; "the agreement was a triumph for common sense"
bite - (angling) an instance of a fish taking the bait; "after fishing for an hour he still had not had a bite"
failure - an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose; "the surprise party was a complete failure"
2.success - an attainment that is successful; "his success in the marathon was unexpected"; "his new play was a great success"
attainment - the act of achieving an aim; "the attainment of independence"
winning - succeeding with great difficulty; "winning is not everything"
hit, smasher, smash, bang, strike - a conspicuous success; "that song was his first hit and marked the beginning of his career"; "that new Broadway show is a real smasher"; "the party went with a bang"
home run, bell ringer, bull's eye, mark - something that exactly succeeds in achieving its goal; "the new advertising campaign was a bell ringer"; "scored a bull's eye"; "hit the mark"; "the president's speech was a home run"
conquest - success in mastering something difficult; "the conquest of space"
coup - a brilliant and notable success
flying colors, flying colours - complete success; "they passed inspection with flying colors"
qualifying, passing, pass - success in satisfying a test or requirement; "his future depended on his passing that test"; "he got a pass in introductory chemistry"
overturn, upset - an improbable and unexpected victory; "the biggest upset since David beat Goliath"
seduction, conquest - an act of winning the love or sexual favor of someone
score - the act of scoring in a game or sport; "the winning score came with less than a minute left to play"
solution - the successful action of solving a problem; "the solution took three hours"
3.success - a state of prosperity or fame; "he is enjoying great success"; "he does not consider wealth synonymous with success"
successfulness, prosperity - the condition of prospering; having good fortune
big time - the highest level of an occupation (especially in entertainment)
pay dirt - a profitable success; "the inventor worked for years before hitting pay dirt"
failure - lack of success; "he felt that his entire life had been a failure"; "that year there was a crop failure"
4.success - a person with a record of successessuccess - a person with a record of successes; "his son would never be the achiever that his father was"; "only winners need apply"; "if you want to be a success you have to dress like a success"
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul - a human being; "there was too much for one person to do"
first lady - the leading woman in an art or profession
great - a person who has achieved distinction and honor in some field; "he is one of the greats of American music"
highflier, highflyer - a person of great ability and ambition
natural - someone regarded as certain to succeed; "he's a natural for the job"
sleeper - an unexpected achiever of success; "the winner was a true sleeper--no one expected him to get it"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. victory, triumph, positive result, favourable outcome, successfulness the success of European business in building a stronger partnership
victory failure, collapse, disaster, misfortune, downfall
2. prosperity, riches, fortune, luck, wealth, fame, eminence, ascendancy, affluence, opulence Nearly all of them believed work was the key to success.
3. hit (informal), winner, smash (informal), triumph, belter (slang), sensation, sell-out, wow (slang), best seller, market leader, smash hit (informal), box office success We hope it will be a commercial success.
hit flop (informal), fiasco, washout, clunker (informal), dead duck (slang)
4. big name, star, hit (informal), somebody, celebrity, sensation, megastar (informal), V.I.P. Everyone who knows her says she will be a great success.
big name nobody, loser, no-hoper, non-person, saddo (Brit. slang)
"Eighty percent of success is showing up" [Woody Allen]
"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail" [Gore Vidal]
"Failure is inevitable. Success is elusive" [Steven Spielberg]
"Getting on is the opium of the middle classes" [Walter James]
"To succeed in the world we must look foolish but be wise" [C.L. de Montesquieu Pensées]
"Success has ruin'd many a man" [Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard's Almanack]
"The secret of business success is honesty and sincerity. If you can fake those, you've got it made" [attributed to Groucho Marx]
"If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut" [Albert Einstein]
"Success is relative;"
"It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things" [T.S. Eliot The Family Reunion]
"success: the one unpardonable sin against one's fellows" [Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary]
"Be nice to people on your way up because you'll meet 'em on your way down" [Wilson Mizner]
"Nothing succeeds like success"
"There is always room at the top"
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
شَخْص ناجِحنجاحنَجاحنـَجَاح
úspěchúspěšný člověkzdar
góîur árangur; velgengnimaîur sem slær í gegn
úspešný človek
başarıbaşarılı kimse/şey
sự thành công


A. N
1. (at task) → éxito m (at, in en) the success or failure of the strategyel éxito o el fracaso de la estrategia
success never went to his headel éxito nunca se le subió a la cabeza
congratulations on your success!¡enhorabuena, lo has conseguido!
the key to success at schoolla clave del éxito escolar
his success at the Olympicssus logros en las Olimpiadas
we have had some success in reducing the national debthemos conseguido or logrado reducir en parte la deuda pública
to make a success of sth would you say he's made a success of his life?¿dirías que ha triunfado en la vida?
we have made a success of the venturehemos conseguido or logrado que la operación sea un éxito
to meet with successtener éxito
to wish sb every successdesear a algn todo lo mejor
she tried without success to get a loan from the bankintentó, sin éxito, obtener un préstamo del banco
I tried to distract him but without successintenté distraerlo pero no lo conseguí or logré
2. (= sensation, hit) → éxito m
to be a success [product, event] → ser un éxito; [person] → tener éxito
he was a great successtuvo un gran éxito
he was a success at lastpor fin consiguió el éxito
a commercial successun éxito comercial
B. CPD success rate N the success rate of organ transplantsel índice de transplantes de órganos que salen bien, el número de transplantes de órganos realizados con éxito (frm)
the police success rate in tracking down murderersel número de asesinos que la policía logra atrapar
success story Néxito m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[səkˈsɛs] n
[person, plan, attempt, play] → succès m
the key to success → la clé du succès
without success → sans succès
(= successful person or thing) → succès m
The play was a great success → La pièce a été un grand succès.
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nErfolg m; without successohne Erfolg, erfolglos; wishing you every success in your examsmit besten Wünschen für eine erfolgreiche Prüfung; to make a success of somethingmit or bei etw Erfolg haben, mit or bei etw erfolgreich sein; they made a success of their marriageihre Ehe war ein Erfolg; to be a success with somebodybei jdm ankommen; the new car is not a successdas neue Auto ist nicht gerade ein (durchschlagender) Erfolg; the plan was a successder Plan war erfolgreich or ein voller Erfolg; to meet with successErfolg haben, erfolgreich sein; success storyErfolgsstory f; (= person)Erfolg m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[səkˈsɛs] n (gen) → successo, riuscita
she was a great success → ha avuto un grande successo
without success → senza successo or risultato
to make a success of sth → riuscire bene in qc
to meet with success → avere successo
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(səkˈsiːd) verb
1. to manage to do what one is trying to do; to achieve one's aim or purpose. He succeeded in persuading her to do it; He's happy to have succeeded in his chosen career; She tried three times to pass her driving-test, and at last succeeded; Our new teaching methods seem to be succeeding.
2. to follow next in order, and take the place of someone or something else. He succeeded his father as manager of the firm / as king; The cold summer was succeeded by a stormy autumn; If the duke has no children, who will succeed to (= inherit) his property?
success (səkˈses) noun
1. (the prosperity gained by) the achievement of an aim or purpose. He has achieved great success as an actor / in his career.
2. a person or thing that succeeds or prospers. She's a great success as a teacher.
sucˈcessful (-ˈses-) adjective
(negative unsuccessful) having success. Were you successful in finding a new house?; The successful applicant for this job will be required to start work next month; a successful career.
sucˈcessfully adverb
succession (səkˈseʃən) noun
1. the right of succeeding to a throne as king, to a title etc. The Princess is fifth in (order of) succession (to the throne).
2. a number of things following after one another. a succession of bad harvests.
3. the act or process of following and taking the place of someone or something else. his succession to the throne.
successive (səkˈsesiv) adjective
following one after the other. He won three successive matches.
sucˈcessively (-ˈsesiv-) adverb
sucˈcessor (-ˈse-) noun
a person who follows, and take the place of another. Who will be appointed as the manager's successor?
in succession
one after another. five wet days in succession.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


نـَجَاح úspěch succes Erfolg επιτυχία éxito menestys réussite uspjeh successo 成功 성공 succes suksess sukces sucesso успех framgång ความสำเร็จ başarı sự thành công 成功
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


n. éxito, acierto, triunfo.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
He was paying for success, too, in the demands made on his time by boards of civic enterprise and committees of public welfare.
"Here's a man of business--a man of years--a man of experience-- IN a Bank," said Stryver; "and having summed up three leading reasons for complete success, he says there's no reason at all!
As the world measures such things, I am a success--I dare to say a success more conspicuous than the success of the average successful man, and a success that required a pretty fair amount of brains and will power.
Our youth, now, emboldened with his success, resolved to push the matter farther, and ventured even to beg her recommendation of him to her father's service; protesting that he thought him one of the honestest fellows in the country, and extremely well qualified for the place of a gamekeeper, which luckily then happened to be vacant.
He was quite a new man in the circle of the nobility of the province, but his success was unmistakable, and he was not wrong in supposing that he had already obtained a certain influence.
In one part seeing people on the other side, and remarking that the water was shallow, and that the rocks and trees which grew very thick there contributed to facilitate the attempt, I leaped from one rock to another, till I reached the opposite bank, to the great amazement of the natives themselves, who never had tried that way; my four companions followed me with the same success: and it hath been called since the passage of Father Jerome.
"All my little success in life has been gained in the pulpit.
It was the very success of his last and most pretentious effort that had placed him in the horrifying predicament in which he now found himself--with the corpse of what was apparently a human being in his workshop and no available explanation that could possibly be acceptable to a matter-of-fact and unscientific police.
I knew, of course, that they must despise me now for my lack of success in the service, and for my having let myself sink so low, going about badly dressed and so on--which seemed to them a sign of my incapacity and insignificance.
The personal column was well looked after by Miss Sara Stanley and the story page has been a marked success under the able management of Mr.
He had dreamed that he had still time before him to make life a success. For as men counted success in those days, Spenser was a failure.
He had become thoroughly conversant with that unwritten code with which he had been so pleased at Olmutz and according to which an ensign might rank incomparably higher than a general, and according to which what was needed for success in the service was not effort or work, or courage, or perseverance, but only the knowledge of how to get on with those who can grant rewards, and he was himself often surprised at the rapidity of his success and at the inability of others to understand these things.